Students build dreams through welding class

Students build dreams through welding class

Magnolia Bates is building her dream for a better future with a welder’s torch. She is one of about 15 students earning a certificate in welding through a partnership between Community Renewal’s Adult Renewal Academy and Northwest Louisiana Technical College. Red Ball Oxygen has donated welding rods and equipment. “Some people told me that welding was for a man, not a woman, but I like challenges. I like using the torch and building things,” she said. Magnolia, a mother of three, is an ARA student who is close to graduating. “I want to start my own soul food business – I’ve already had training in culinary arts – and then I can use my welding skills to work on my own building.” One of the best rewards of this new Community Renewal outreach: Students not only learn a marketable job skill; they also learn self-confidence. “This is building me up and building my self-esteem. I feel like I don’t have to worry about anything because this takes stress off of me.” Students meet on Saturday mornings on the LTC Shreveport campus with Allendale Community Coordinator Emmitt Welch, also an experienced welder. “Without this class, some of these students would be at home watching the wind blow through the trees. Their lives would be at a dead end,” he said. “This program gives them hope. They will become responsible, productive citizens because of this class.” Teacher Harris Williams, a welder for 40 years, said helping these students is one way of giving back to the community. “My hope is they complete their welding education and get their diploma. They can...
Sisters find joy at Friendship House

Sisters find joy at Friendship House

Makaila Reed and her sisters know how dangerous their streets once were and how tempting it has been for other young people to join gangs and get caught up in a life of violence and crime. That’s why the girls and their mother never take it for granted that today they can play without fear on those same streets. Gang fights and drug deals have been replaced by block parties and neighborhood service projects. The No. 1 reason, they say, is the impact of Community Renewal and the two Friendship Houses that are helping to transform the Allendale neighborhood. A Friendship House is a permanent part of the neighborhood, lived in by a CRI employee and their family and serving as a tangible symbol of hope and change in high-crime, low-income areas. “The Friendship House helps keep kids from going out and doing the wrong things and getting locked up. I feel safe with the Friendship House here,” said 12-year-old Makaila. “I like coming here because I have friends here and I am part of the group. I feel like it’s a family here. If the Friendship House was not here I would probably just go home and watch TV and waste my time.” Younger sister, Miracle, 10, feels the same way. “I enjoy the Friendship House because I like being with my friends and learning about God. We have birthday parties here and we help the community get better. I feel safe and happy here.” Felicia Sewell, the girls’ mother, said her children have become more caring and outgoing people because of CRI’s commitment to Allendale. “The Friendship...
20 Years of Caring

20 Years of Caring

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Finding Purpose And Passion In Renewal

Finding Purpose And Passion In Renewal

Finding Purpose And Passion In Renewal Successful businesswoman impacts her block – and the world. “Community Renewal has trained and nurtured me and I am jumping up and down inside because of what God has done for me in my life. I thank Community Renewal for their commitment to me and to you and to every person who lives in the Shreveport-Bossier area, and ultimately in cities and nations all around the world. “I’ve come to tell you that Community Renewal is the real thing. It is made up of a proven methodology that is adaptable to reach any person in any neighborhood and provide them with a way to cut to what is crucially important to people in all societies, and that is for neighbors to know and interact with one another. It is an innate need of ours to connect. “Five years ago I found myself searching for a charity organization I could support. I needed something more significant to work for each day than just accomplishments and money. Up to this point, I had lived my life focused on achievements and making a name for myself. I strived to be the best I could at any cost. Relationships mattered very little. “Community Renewal provided me the road to get out of my self-centered world that had led me to disappointment and even depression. They walked with me as I developed into a more compassionate person who now values people and relationships more than ever. “God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. This past Tuesday night, my husband and I had 38 adults and 16...
A Community On The Way Back

A Community On The Way Back

A Community On The Way Back The Barksdale Annex Neighborhood Vietnam veteran John Pearce almost felt like he had moved from one war zone to another when he moved into the Barksdale Annex neighborhood in Bossier City. “It was easy to see this could have been classified as a ghetto. We saw police cars regularly. There were thugs and gangsters,” he said. Kelita Green, 13, also has frightening memories of the neighborhood. “When I was 6 or 7 a bullet hit a fence that was close to my bedroom. I was scared and I did not want to sleep in my room anymore. All of my toys were inside because I was afraid to come out of the house,” she said. Caring residents still lived in the area, but many stayed behind locked doors. They felt afraid. And they felt alone. That is exactly why Community Renewal International chose Barksdale Annex for its first Friendship House outside Shreveport. The challenge may have been great, but the need was even greater and could not be ignored. The first Friendship House opened in 2003, following about two years of groundwork. A second Friendship House opened in 2009. CRI has worked there with the Neighborhood Association, churches and others. “When the Friendship House came in, it was like being in a Western town when the sheriff came in to help. Most of the people here really cared and wanted to see change,” Pearce said. “When Community Renewal came in, we started looking out for each other as neighbors. You could see and feel the people getting stronger.” Pearce, who started as a...